Event helps clothe kids


POSTED: Thursday, July 30, 2009

Twelve years ago, Rhea Lana Riner was trying to raise her three children, all under the age of six, on a tight budget.

If there's one thing all parents know, it's that kids grow up and out of clothes quickly, and Riner decided to convert those clothes to cash by hosting a consignment sale in her home. She had tried garage sales, but found they didn't bring in a fair value for her items.

“;People wanted to give me 25 cents for something I knew was worth at least $7,”; she said, so the first Rhea Lana Children's Consignment Event was born in Conway, Ark. Since then, she's franchised her company and concept and Terrence Iwamoto of Mr. Ink Plus, picked up on the idea and brought it to Hawaii.

Riner was in town for the debut of the event at the Nimitz Business Center last week. It continues this weekend, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

At the inaugural event, most of the gently used clothing is geared toward young children, with cribs, infant car carriers, strollers and other equipment also available. Prices last week ranged from about $4 to $10 for clothing — or about 25 to 30 percent off their retail cost — and will be halved during this final week.

Saving families money was the aim of the event that in two years has spread to seven states, mostly in the south.

Riner said her first event welcomed 11 consignors and by the second year had expanded into her kitchen and bedrooms and filled her neighborhood with unwanted traffic, leading her to realize she had a business on her hands.

“;It started as a way to help families and provide a service to the community. I've learned that Hawaii moms are just like Arkansas moms and Texas moms in that we all want to be smart with our money and we all want cute clothes for our kids.”;





        Rhea Lana Children's Consignment Event

» Place: Nimitz Business Center, 1130 N. Nimitz Hwy., second floor


» Time: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday


» Admission: Free


» Info: www.rhealana.com




All clothes and other consigned items are inspected before being accepted into the sale event. Great care is taken to ensure the highest quality possible.

Aware of the loss of merchandise often associated with mom-and-pop consignment stores, Riner's husband devised a bar code system that tracks each item so belongings are guaranteed, and consignors keep 70 percent of the sale price of the items. So, someone bringing in 20 items worth $5 each would walk away with $70, enough to pick up a couple of new items for the kids at regular retail, or much more if plowed back into the event's sale.

The event aims to do good on many levels, by helping consignors to make money from their unwanted items, recycling, and helping others pick up affordable clothing and home goods, and that is what attracted Iwamoto to the concept.

He was already in the business of making affordable printer ink available and helping business owners to recycle ink cartridges, and said, “;I saw a story on Rhea Lana on CNN and it fit in with my philosophy in that it wasn't a big corporation. It's a family company that focuses on personal attention and giving back to the community.”;

Iwamoto said the economy has made it difficult for groups to raise money and watched youths get rejected when trying to sell cookies, bread and other items outside stores, so devised an easy no-rejection plan of distributing flyers for his sale. If a person brings in a flyer and makes a purchase, 10 percent of the purchase price goes to the group that distributed the flyer.

Unsold items that consignors don't want after the sale will also be donated to the Hawaii Homeless Shelter.

He plans to host three events in Honolulu annually, the next to take place in Feb. 2010.

The only thing that could be better is if the event were to include more clothing for adults, but Riner said that's not in the works.

“;Adult clothing doesn't sell as well, so for now I think we'll focus on what we do best.”;